Louis’ middling round keeps him in touch in Shanghai

Louis Oosthuizen thought of suggesting a skins game on the side on Thursday with playing partner Branden Grace ahead of the opening round of the BMW Masters in Shanghai.

The match didn’t materialise, but Oosthuizen rode out a rugged start during which he felt he wasn’t middling the ball to sign for a four-under-par 68, two better than Grace and six off the course-record-setting round of 62 carded by Jamie Donaldson.

“I’ll take positives out of my last four holes,” said Oosthuizen. “Before that, I wasn’t really hitting it out of the middle of the club. I hit two in the water that came off the heel, and I struggled with a few off the heel the whole was round.

“I got it right on the last four holes – but I still hit fairways and greens, and I gave myself opportunities for birdies, and I made a few nice putts,” he added.

Donaldson’s extraordinary round had not a single blemish on the card, while Oosthuizen had a double-bogey six on the ninth to hamper his progress. After he got that out of his system, he made four birdies coming home.

“Things felt okay until the ninth,” said Oosthuizen, “and then I didn’t really middle it all the way to 14. Then I just had a good finish. I mean, I could have finished with five birdies in a row if I’d made my putts on 14 and 18.”

He finished the round with Peter Hanson and Francesco Molinari ahead of him in second on six-under, and a group of three players including Rory McIlroy on five-under.

Also on four-under were Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose, while George Coetzee and Charl Schwartzel each signed for three-under 69.

Grace kept Race to Dubai leader McIlroy in his sights with his two-under, a score he shared with Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter.

Thomas Aiken is the other South African in the field, and he finished the day at one-under.

“I know Jamie is at 10-under,” said Oosthuizen as he looked ahead to the rest of the tournament, “but you have to look at second which is at six-under, so I’m pretty sure I can have a good one tomorrow – and perhaps find the middle of the club!”

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